Have I ever told you how much I LOVE the Ceramic and Metal Arts building? Well, I really do. I biked down there on a beautiful afternoon last week to drop in on Tony in his studio. The CMA is a magical place where all the best parts of it seem to always stay the same: a volleyball net and thirty bikes locked up out front, all the doors wide open, thick dust and clay residue EVERY WHERE, and some guy walking around without his shirt on. It’s sort of like being at your best friend’s house where people are always coming and going, there are always snacks and music and someone’s always super stoned. Let the good times roll. Whatever, it’s a beautiful place and I immediately remembered that special place in my heart for the CMA.
I’ve been trying to track Tony down now for about three weeks. This guy is a super lovebug who you can’t help but feel at ease with whenever you’re around him. “I had a piece blow up in the kiln the other day…” That was the first thing he said to me once in his studio. He seemed pretty bummed out, or maybe just exhausted. But in true Tony fashion, he followed it up with a beautiful up-beat aside: “But maybe it was just god editing my work for me!” HA/DUH. Whatta guy!
Tony’s Studio. GOLD!
As with all of the MFAs, Tony is preparing for his departmental thesis show (Tuesday at the CMA, 6pm) as well as the Henry show that opens Friday, so it makes sense that it’s taken so long to get some face time. His work is great because his sculptural pieces are always perfectly finished and over the top decadent (he cites baroque and rococo as huge influences) and come out of layers and layers of stories and jokes, source materials, and imagined scenarios (as my #1 top favorite professor always says: “IT’S ALLEGORICAL!”). Of his own work Tony has this to say: “My work is about facades and what’s behind facades, superficial narratives over more mysterious ones…I have a lot of interest in surfaces and modes of pulling the viewer in. There is always a top layer of humor and beauty and materialism and decadence…you’re never quite sure what you’re looking at- you’re always second guessing what you’re seeing. On the one hand, I employ all these tactics and then underneath all that there’s this darkness and kind of emptiness and isolation. It’s like you set up an expectation and then you thwart the expectation.”
Steve is a weird dude who makes great work. This guy has a killer collection of found mix-tapes and old art history slides, plays a mean accordion, rules at karaoke and once when he was my TA, nearly failed me. He is one of those people who is an infuriating mix of smarts, vision, tireless self-motivation and hustle. We met up over some bazooka bubblegum and talked about the show and what he’s been working on lately. Walking into his studio I immediately noticed ten bottles of black face paint and knew this would be a good visit.
Time is ticking and here at the Henry we’re getting ready for the annual University of Washington Master of Fine Arts exhibition. I’ll be providing you with studio visits and other such posts of the candidates hard at work as they prepare to finish their masters work and instal their pieces in the gallery.
First up, I give you Rodrigo Valenzuela- photomedia candidate, videographer, uber talented man-about-town and all around smooth operator.
I sat down with Rodrigo in his basement studio on campus this week to chat about his latest series and the upcoming show. We talked about made-up places and how to get illegal workers to open up about their lives on camera. The works we talked about include three huge black and white digitally compiled prints mounted on plexi and one video piece. The prints are compiled from his images of desert landscapes, beaches, mountain ranges and rolling hills taken everywhere from Chile, Peru and the northwest. Ramshackle shelters and lean-tos litter these imaginary scenes. Many of the original images come from his latest trip back home to Chile, his first time back in seven years. “Spending time in the desert (of Peru and Chile) I realized how much people want to have this sense of attachment to their land. They’re in these little remote places, these people don’t care- they have this sense that they belong somewhere. I never really cared that much about being a part of a place, so I started making these images. These collages that are six or seven places put together, made-up places for people without that sense of nostalgia…”
Works from The Builder series, Rodrigo Valenzuela, 2012
What could make the Henry’s OPEN HOUSE even better? Members’ Choice!
On April 20, during the members’ preview at the Spring Open House, Henry members have the opportunity to choose permanent collection objects for display in the Reed Collection Study Center.
Members are encouraged to search the Henry’s collection online for artwork and submit a request. To help focus your search through the Henry’s vast collections, we are asking members to choose objects related to the Henry’s current exhibitions, including Gary Hill, Andrew Dadson, and Ceramics.
A group of super bright graduate students from the UW along with other emerging scholars from the area are presenting original research at a day long symposium tomorrow. It’s in conjunction with the Gauguin and Polynesia exhibit at the SAM. The event kicks off at the Henry (9:20-12:00) with five great presentations then moves downtown to the Nordstrom Lecture Hall at SAM from 2:00-5:00pm for more scholarly fun. Tour of the exhibition to follow.
If you want to kick it off right start Wednesday night with a lecture at SAM on the Gauguin show.
More information on Thursday’s symposium, including ticketing information: here or HERE!
Rainy Dawg, the University of Washington’s student-run, online-only radio station, is celebrating its 9th birthday this week with a 3 day music festival starting TODAY in the UW’s Ethnic Cultural Theater (ECT). Over the festival there will be performances by ambient electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never, Portland pop-punk band The Thermals, and Minneapolis rapper Brother Ali.
Tuesday, April 10th (8pm, all ages)
Oneohtrix Point Never
USF & Secret Colors
Wednesday, April 11th (8pm, all ages)
Thursday, April 12th (8pm, all ages)
Tickets cost $14 for the general public and can be purchased here. Read more here.
Thousands of volunteers contributing to collective research? Hooray for collaboration!
This lecture from the UW Graduate School Lecture Series is coming up in a few weeks and it gets me all excited thinking about how new technologies can facilitate collaboration across all fields and especially the arts.
Check it out at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery this month! This show will be up from April 10-20 featuring the work of Alfonso Pozo Gutierrez, Amanda Kirk, Amelia Hooning, Danielle Comeaux, Davidde Cano, Hanna Reingold, Ilysia Van Deren, Joana Stillwell, Marni Dworkin, Michael Bolton, Rachel Gray, Samantha Stenson, Tasha Lozanoff, Yael Nov, and Yu Xiahou.
Join Ellen Garvens’ UW undergraduate art class in the museum’s Study Center tonight at 5:30PM to view a selection of permanent collection objects, collaboratively selected and arranged by the students.
A new mural by Ray Troll is now on display in the Fisheries Sciences Building. The mural depicts a various species found in the Salish Sea as well as Seattle landscape markers such as the Space Needle and Mount Rainier.
What’s even more awesome is that the mural is 3-D. Be sure to grab a pair of loaner 3-D glasses from Chris Yoder in the main office down the hall before you view it.